Margie’s phone vibrated when the message popped up on the screen. She giggled about the app’s chosen terminology and pushed the ‘Yes’ prompt. She’d only been using the app for a couple of months but Brooks matched with her almost immediately. She filled out the usual profile questions; gender identity, sexual orientation, favorite number and so on. Hours after she joined she received a message. Brooks was a handsome mid-40s man with a full head of blond hair. He sported a prominent tattoo of a golden star with the number 35 on his neck.
Over time chatting led to flirting; then, to wanting to meet. Their schedules were difficult to sync up but their first date was finally happening. After she approved sending him her location she wondered how far away he lived. She was about to ask him for an E.T.A. when a sudden knock on the door startled her.
“It’s Brooks,” he said through the door. She was surprised he got there so fast, but she did not think too much of it.
“Maybe he lives close by,” she thought and dismissed it. She did not consider the ramifications of that thought. He would have live in the same building and same floor, 40, as her to get there that fast. Ignoring those details she rushed to open the door.
“Hi!” she beamed when she opened the door. She was relieved when the handsome man looked just like his pictures.
“Hey,” he grinned back and extended his hand. “It’s great to finally meet you.” After the handshake, they stood at her door in awkward silence for a few moments before Brooks spoke up.
“Ready for dinner? I know a great Chinese place.” As he asked, Brooks wiggled his hand at the air.
“What are you-,” Margie stopped asking when a tall black hole opened in the air next to him. He gestured at it as if he were a gentleman holding the door open for her. She took a step backward.
“What’s that?” Brooks tilted his head at her, then he dismissed the hole with a wave of his hand.
“You don’t know what you are?” He asked, but kept going past that question. “How’d you get the app?” Margie did not know what to make of the first question so she ignored it to focus on the second.
“I won 3 free months in some contest,” she shrugged. “I don’t really remember entering, but…,” she smiled at him. “You’re here and I haven’t paid a dime so I guess I did.”
“You won it?” he looked at her through slitted, suspicious eyes. Then in an instant, his smile returned. He smacked his hand against his forehead and burst into laughter. “Of course! You’re a Borracho. Sorry, I doubted you for a second. I kind of forgot.”
“I’m not drunk! Why would you say that?” Margie asked. She took another step back into her apartment. Brooks still remained outside her door. If he tried stepping in it would only make her more uneasy.
“Oh, right. That explains you not knowing what you are,” he said to himself. “Well, I’m no Mundo but I’ll give it a shot. You…,” he pointed at her. “… are Unique… no wait,” he waved his hands in the air as if he were wiping that part of the conversation away. “That’s just going to get confusing. Okay, you’re number 25 out of 54,” he paused and shook his head. “No, that’s at the end already. Fuck it, we’ll find a Mundo later,” he threw his hands in the air in exasperation, then wiggled his fingers at the air. A small, vertical black hole, the size of a dinner-plate opened next to him.
“I am from a different universe,” he pointed at the hole. “This is how I get from universe to universe.” He stuck his hand into the hole up to the elbow then pulled it out again. Now he held a brilliant golden rose. The petals looked more like reptile scales than the red velvety texture she was used to. “There are tons of different universes and getting to them is as easy as walking across the room. Some of them have beautiful things that you’ve never imagined.” He held up the rose and pursed his lips. He gently exhaled on the scaled leaves and it ignited into a soft orange flame. “Like Dragonbreath roses. You found the app because you’re like me. You can’t make portals, but your skill is luck.” Margie had been listening but her eyes were focused on the rose. The flame continued to burn but it was not consuming the flower. By the time he finished talking the flame extinguished itself but the golden flower still looked perfectly intact. She took two steps forward to reach the door again and smiled.
“So, Chinese food?” she asked and reached for the rose. Brooks nodded eagerly but pulled the rose away.
“Yeah, please.” He held up the flower. “I have to put this back or Takeru will kill me.”